Since this is my first post in this forum, I'll comment on a simple, but hopefully interesting, little detail about one of the most basic words of Chinese, the 'copula' "shi4".

Although the verb "shi4" (= "be") was one of my first ten or so Mandarin words and I have been familiar with it for more than a year, until a few days ago I had not realized that it could generally function as a pro-predicate. The first example of this use of "shi4" I noticed was when, reviewing a very elementary lesson, I observed that a possible reply to "wo3 hen3 hao3, ni3 ne?" was "wo3 ye shi4" (whereas just "*wo3 ye3" was not). Since "wo3 hen3 hao3" does not contain "shi4", that fact was in itself mildly surprising to me, but I thought, "Well, "hen3 hao3" is a state predicate, after all, and "shi4" could perhaps be added for emphasis in certain contexts, so perhaps "shi4" is a natural pro-form for it, all things considered." However, I decided to ask a native speaker and was definitely surprised to learn that "shi4" could also be appropriate as a pro-form of ACTIVE predicates like "tan2 gang1qin2" in a dialogue like this:

A. Ni3 zai3 ni3de kong2 shi4jian2 zuo4 shen2me?

B. Wo3 tan2 gang1qin2.

A: Hao3 ji4le! Wo3 ye3 shi4! [= I also play the piano]

If the pro-predicate had been an active verb like "zuo4" (that is: "wo3 ye3 zuo4"; compare with English "So do I"), I would not have been surprised at all, but "shi4" is THE archetypal stative verb, and in none of the languages I am familiar with had I ever seen verbs apparently corresponding to Mandarin "shi4" act as pro-forms of active predicates. That makes me think that Chinese "shi4" probably has more to it than it seems on the surface (or than Chinese-English dictionaries say, for that matter).

Anyway, I would be most grateful if native speakers of Chinese, or knowleadgeable members of this forum, in general, could explain to me what allows "shi4" to have this (unexpected?) function.

Thank you in advance

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Thank you very much! I did not know of that possibility. I'll add it to my baby Chinese grammar, :-)!

This is my first time using this website, I don't know whether I can receive your message. If you like, you can put me in your skype contacts. My skype name is "bg6rrn",online now.

wo3 hen3 hao3, ni3 ne?


wo3 ye shi4.

我也是(这样)。  "zhe yang" was omitted, no dout about this."zhe yang" stands for what said before in the context.In this context,"zhe yang " is "hen hao". 

“这样”这个词被省略了,因为没必要。我们在谈话的时候都有个语言环境(context),根据语言环境就能很清楚知道回答者表达的意思。“这样”这个词是用来根据实际语言环境来替代实际内容的词,用“这样”这个词可以简化中文。“这样”具体指的是什么意思就必须要在语言环境中来分析,“这样”是哪样呢?在对话中就需要知道前面的内容,如果不知道前面的内容就根本无法知道具体要表达的意思,而只能够知道回答者与提问者所讲的内容是一样的。如果你仔细揣摩(If you feel it careully),你就会感觉到“这样”这个词完全可以被忽略。

Wish my words do have any help for you .

Thank you again, you are very kind.

Certainly, in reply to "wo3 hen3 hao3, ni3 ne5?  an ellipsis of the attribute "this way" will automatically explain the appearance of "shi4". What remains for me to understand is why "shi4" is generally possible as a substitute of predicates that do not contain "shi4 + an attributive noun phrase" (the "tan2 gang1qin2" case I mentioned, for example). Nevertheless, I must confess that I am not sure I have fully understood your second paragraph. I am a beginner, I only know just about two hundred Chinese characters and less than a thousand words in pin yin format and so  have barely managed (with some help from the Google translator!) to get an approximate idea of what you explained in it. Obviously, the replacement of a predicate by a pro-form is an 'economy' device (zero-substitution/ellipsis) and works only when the speaker knows the immediately preceding context. If the context is a "shi4 + attribute" sentence, "wo3 ye3 shi4 [+ understood attribute]" is perfectly understandable, but otherwise the appearance on "shi4" in the elliptical form needs some more explanation, I think (as I claimed in my original post).



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